Interview with Mike & Jennifer Rusher: One Couple’s Journey to Getting Healthy & Losing a Combined 86 Pounds!

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When Alex & I first met Mike and Jennifer Rusher, we were so eager to get them on the road to being healthy and fit. They both had big goals in mind, so we set out to create a Customized program that would be tailored to their specific needs. To see how they have changed and GROWN in such a short period of time is so amazing that we had to share. Alex and I are so proud of them and stay tuned for more progress pics to come as they proceed on this journey to creating a healthy lifestyle.

Make sure you don’t miss the AMAZING Before/After pics at the bottom of this post! 

1) What made you decide to start a wellness program with A+A Wellness? Did either of you have a particular moment where you said ‘enough is enough’?

Jenn: I had always been a tiny person about 125 pounds.  I was never truly over weight. Slightly before I left Kroger, I was about 135 pounds, I started taking the depo shot (an awful form of birth control) and the hormones really screwed up my body in a number of ways, but the worst being that I gained 30 pounds within a month or two. I immediately switched to a different form of birth control! But the damage was done. I tried everything, hydroxycut, healthy trim, Thrive (a local weight loss program), weight watchers, etc. You name it, I probably tried it… At this point, nothing worked and I just gave up… I just thought “I guess it’s just never going to come off”. Well, then I took a desk job at Kroger and not too long after that I became a paralegal and that’s when the weight really started packing on… You know how some people are heavy for so long that they only see themselves as heavy even after they lose weight?  Well I was just the opposite. I always thought I was skinny and looking back at some photos I keep asking myself “WTH was I thinking wearing that?” and it wasn’t until I attended a family event in May 2016 that I finally saw myself as I truly looked… As most families do, we all gathered together to take a family photo and being that I am vertically challenged, I was in the front row! When I saw the photos on Facebook, my jaw dropped, but again, nothing had worked in the past why would it now? Well around this same time, two of my closest girlfriends had started seeing results after working with a personal trainer who also provided meal guidance. These ladies had two totally different body types, but when I saw them I was just shocked at the difference it made and it motivated me to start looking for a personal trainer. I spoke to a number of people and companies. One of which was A+A Wellness. I spoke to Ashley and I told her about my history and how I needed to see results. Specifically, I wanted to see results before our trip in August to Friday Harbor, Washington. I think I specifically said, “we will be going kayaking with Orcas in the wild and I don’t want them seeing me as a big meal!” (Jokingly of course!) She then told me she started off at 208 pounds.  Seeing how I was a little over 215, I saw this as my fit! My husband, Mike, and I have been together for almost 10 years and my big weight gain started about 6 years ago. He knew me when I was small, but loved me the same as I “grew”. He was very supportive of my decision and joined along with me, because I knew I couldn’t do this alone. It’s too easy to give into temptation when you don’t have someone holding you accountable.

Mike: First impression of Ashley and Alex were really good. They impressed me with their knowledge and determination to help others. I must say that from the start, the diet was tough and when we were ready to throw in the towel, they never gave up on us. I think most trainers would take the money and run when their clients are ready to quit, but not Ashley and Alex.
2) What was your starting point? (i.e. Weight, body fat etc.)

Jenn: 215 pounds, 56% body fat.

Mike: 178 pounds, 42% body fat.

3) What success have you each had to date?

Jenn: I’m currently down to 155 pounds, 39% body fat. So, 60 pounds and 17% body fat.

Mike: Currently at 152 pounds. 28% body fat.
4) What are the changes you’ve noticed?

Jenn: I feel like a whole new person in a whole new body.  I go back and look at photos and am just in awe of where I am.  It’s truly unbelievable at times!  I’m wearing clothes I bought in the past but never worn (tags still on), clothes I thought I fit into but didn’t realize how big I had gotten.  I feel better, not just because of the way I look, but the way I feel.  I feel clean and healthy!

Mike: I feel a lot more active. I have a lot more energy and wake up feeling a lot more like my age (24).

5) How did having a team like A+A Wellness help you succeed?  

Jenn: Alex and Ashley have been a huge factor in my success! Alex has so much knowledge when it comes to food and natural supplements, getting you to where you want to be. And Ashley also has a great knowledge of food, but her best quality is motivation. She is constantly pushing me to achieve my goals and when I was ready to give up she pushed me to keep going and not once has she stopped pushing me.

Mike:  I could not have made the changes without their support and motivation. Alex brings a wealth of knowledge and Ashley can really inspire you to stay motivated.
6) What was your biggest struggle?  

Jenn: My biggest struggle was seeing the end game.  When I first got the meal plan, I about lost it.  I’m a horribly, picky eater and I don’t think Alex and Ashley believed me when I said I was a picky eater until they saw my list of foods I won’t eat, well more like my small list of foods I will eat. I honestly don’t think there is anyone else on this earth worse than me! But when I saw the list of healthy foods to eat and compared it to the list of foods I will eat, I was like “there’s just no way this is going to work!” I was ready to quit already. After all, that’s easier than changing my diet, right? Ashley barely knew me and I had already paid her in full, but that didn’t stop her. She pushed me and I am so grateful for that! After I was about two weeks in, I started to see how it wasn’t that hard, there were ways to substitute the foods I loved into my meal plan just in a healthy manner.

Mike: For me not falling back into bad eating habits. Sodas were much easier to cut then I thought, but the convenience of fast food hasn’t been easy to turn away.
7) Biggest success moment (You noticed a huge change or felt successful when….. )

Jenn: My biggest success moment was when I asked to change my photo at work.  My photo was taken when I first started working there (January 2016) and was used internally for everything, including emails. Anytime I sent an email or someone sent me an email, they saw my picture and I saw my picture. I hated the way it looked.  When I took the new photo, I didn’t even need to look back at the old photo (but you know I did), I was in shock!  I didn’t realize I had lost so much weight just in my face! It’s crazy because when you look in the mirror every day, you don’t see the changes, but when you go back and look at where you started and where you are, you’ll see it.

Mike: I noticed the change when I found myself one day looking for a place to grab lunch and I drove several miles past fast food and places I used to frequent, before finding a grocery store. It did not even phase me that I was passing them up. I just simply blocked them out as even options and it was just second nature.

8) What is your greatest word of advice or encouragement for those reading?

Jenn: The biggest thing I’d stress to someone is, clean out your pantry and fridge, then dive right in, 100%, fight those cravings and after you do that for two weeks the cravings will go away.  I can now sit in the break room at work each month and watch people eat cake, cake that I love, but it’s also cake I know I don’t need and cake that I know will stop me from getting to where I want to be!  So, keep going!  You CAN do this!!!

Mike: Do not give up. Whatever you think or feel, never give up. Life is already too short, and though we cannot prevent the end, we can prolong it.

9) How has this helped you as a couple and in marriage? Has it been easier doing this with your spouse?

Jenn: I couldn’t even imagine being able to do this (successfully) without Mike! His support and encouragement has been incredible and watching our bodies go back to the way they used to be has been amazing!  Not once did he ever make me feel insecure about the way I looked, never called me fat, never even hinted at it. He continued to love me the same he always had. So, the weight didn’t directly cause problems in our marriage. But I will say, these changes, feeling better in your own skin again, and feeling great, clean, and healthy, it reflects on your everyday attitude. That can only make a marriage stronger. When you are both happy in your bodies and feeling great, that changes things and makes things so much better.

Mike: I could not do this alone. Having Jenn with me and us both coaching and supporting each other, only brought us closer.

10) Last but not least, any exciting goals or upcoming events now that you’ve started this journey!? 

Jenn: I’ve never cared for races, I mean running for 5 miles just doesn’t sound exciting, but I was approached by a friend who asked if I’d do a Spartan Race with her, obstacles, mud, running, now that sounds like fun! So Mike and I are both training and prepping for that which is in a few weeks! Oh and I can’t forget about getting rid of that remaining 20 pounds! I am almost there and think that this training is going to shave the last of it off just in time for bikini season!!! It’s been so long since I’ve felt comfortable in/worn a bikini and I can’t wait!! No really, I can’t wait, I’ve been trying on my old one almost weekly now!

Mike: For me the journey only just begun. We have shown we can do this over the course of several months, but keeping to this for a lifetime is the real test. The adventure is what makes the fun.

Check out these amazing before and afters!! More to come soon! These two aren’t stopping anytime soon.


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